Grad school can be a rewarding educational experience for many adults, both young and old. However, grad school entry requirements are different from those for undergrads. The following guide explores why leadership experience looks good on grad school applications.
Grad school requirements
Most of the top grad schools in the United States will not admit students who don’t have work experience. However, this varies based on major. It’s usually not possible to get an MBA immediately after graduating from college; instead, grad schools require an average of three to five years of work experience before applying. While this applies to MBA programs, it usually doesn’t apply to technical programs. Grad schools will accept students in STEM majors directly after college. This could include programs such as engineering, informatics, computer science, bioengineering, and more.
MBA programs are designed to prime students for leadership positions. After all, organizations need strong and capable leaders who can motivate, coach, and inspire others (CMOE Strategic Leadership). If a student has zero real-world experience as a leader, it can be difficult to fully benefit from the programs that grad school offers. Without the experience of leadership in real life, it can be difficult to know which areas need improvement.
How to get real-world experience
Fortunately, there are several ways to get leadership experience before grad school. If you aren’t able to serve in a leadership role where you work, there are many volunteer and nonprofit programs that can provide leadership. These include organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross, Peace Corps, and more. When working with these types of organizations, opportunities for leadership often present themselves within just a few months — and you’ll come away from it a better person.
2. Start a business
It’s also possible to get leadership experience by starting a new company. Entrepreneurs are almost always leaders in one role or another. If you own a small business that hires outside help, you’re gaining experience as a leader. Anytime you hire someone to help you with a project, you’re assuming the mantle of leadership.
3. Participate in sports
There are other ways to serve as a leader too. For example, many sports are a great opportunity to learn about leadership. Football teams require leaders to be effective. Even river rafting requires a leader to navigate turbulent waters (Wilderness Aware Rafting). Any of these experiences can help prime you for a future position as a leader.